Have you ever looked down at your feet and asked yourself why are my feet getting bigger?
If you have you are not alone as even though your feet stop growing in your early twenties it isn’t unusual for people to go up a shoe size years later and wonder why.
So why is your shoe size changing and what is causing it? Let’s look at some of the reasons why you might find that you aren’t the same shoe size as you were when you were younger.
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Do Feet Get Bigger With Age?
So do your feet get bigger with age? Well, the fact is that even though your feet usually stop growing lengthwise by the age of 20 or 21 they may widen as you get older.
This is because of a combination of factors that cause the tissues, muscles, and tendons in your feet to start to sag and lose their elasticity. As this process occurs over time some people’s feet will start to splay outwards causing them to believe that they have grown.
These structural changes to the foot are caused by a number of issues. Some of these can be helped with lifestyle and footwear choices whilst others are inevitable as you get older.
Can Your Feet Grow In Your 30’s?
If you are experiencing your feet growing in your 20’s and 30’s what you are actually experiencing is not foot growth but the widening of your feet. When this happens you naturally will be unable to fit into the same shoe sizes you wore before and so find yourself buying bigger shoes.
Here are some of the common reasons why people see their feet flatten and splay as they get older.
If Your Feet Getting Wider Think About Gravity
One of the most overlooked reasons why our feet tend to change shape is related to gravity. This is the force that pushes objects toward their center.
Our planet’s gravity has a downward force and that can impact your feet by making them start to spread out.
Gravity doesn’t just impact our feet it can also impact other parts of our body as well. It can push down on our spines, impact our internal organs and change our blood pressure.
So if your foot’s inner structures are changing gravity can be part of the cause.
Do Feet Get Bigger With Weight Gain?
The next issue that can cause your feet to widen is excess weight which means that there is more force on your feet causing the tendons and ligaments to splay and lose their elasticity.
Carrying extra weight isn’t great for your foot health as it causes changes to the inner structures of your foot. The pressure of those extra pounds makes it more likely for you to get foot and ankle injuries. You are also putting pressure on your foot arch which can also impact your foot stability.
So do your feet get smaller when you lose weight? Well no the actual length of your foot will not get smaller but you may reduce the widening of the foot which means that you fit in slightly smaller or narrower shoes and boots.
Large Feet Caused by Aging
As time passes and you grow older your body begins to change. Your soft tissues start to degrade and your body starts to show signs of wear and tear. You will have also spent considerably more time walking around which means that your bones and ligaments are going to be impacted.
All this wear and tear from standing and moving means that your foot width tends to grow as well because of the pressure and stress that you have placed on your feet.
This is part of the reason why you may see adverts for slippers for the elderly and shoes that are wide fitting in really problematic cases. As the feet expand it can become harder to fit feet into normal shoes so you need specialist makes to fit your feet.
Foot Deformities Impacting Shoe Sizes
As we age some of us will also get foot deformities. These can range from problems such as hammertoes, bunions, bone spurs, and flat feet. All of these can contribute to the size of your foot.
My mother used to have terrible bunions making it impossible for her to wear normal-width leather shoes. Instead, she used to wear soft shoes that wouldn’t hurt that were a size or so bigger than her normal foot size. When she finally had an operation to correct the problem years later she could suddenly fit into smaller shoe sizes.
Even though it appeared she had bigger feet the reality was it was the bunion that was causing the problem and the rest of her foot had long stopped growing.
Injuries Can Cause Your Feet to Swell
Foot injuries and inflammation and swelling can also be a reason why your feet may appear larger than they are.
I have tendonitis in one of my feet and because of that, my left foot is at least half a size bigger than my other foot. When it is aggravated my foot and ankle can swell and look even bigger. This foot injury has caused me to go up a shoe size to accommodate the wider foot.
Sprains, tendonitis, tears in tendons, and broken bones can all impact the inner structures of our feet which can alter our shoe size.
Swollen Feet in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is another cause of foot growth in women. Changes in your body as the pregnancy progresses will impact your feet and make it harder to fit into shoes that you might have previously worn.
There is a great photo that illustrates this when Kim Kardashian was pregnant and she forced herself into some see through high heeled sandals. The newspapers described the resulting look as her being tortured by her shoes.
Pregnancy hormones combined with pressure on your veins and retention of body fluid mean that your feet may swell when you are expecting a baby. Usually, they will revert back to normal size once the baby is born.
A foot massage, leg elevation pillow or compression socks can help to reduce the problem in the interim.
Odema Increasing Shoe Size
Pregnancy is not the only time when a foot can get larger. They can also start to swell for other reasons as well such as:
- Sitting in the same position for long periods of time (think being in an airplane for hours at a time).
- Weight Gain.
- Eating salty foot.
- Heart or medical conditions.
There are a number of things that you can do to combat the problem. One of my favorites is using a leg elevation pillow which helps to raise your legs above your heart allowing your blood circulation to improve and this reduces swelling.
Losing weight can also help and as can changing your diet to reduce your salt intake. Compression socks and tights are also a good way of helping blood circulation so that the swelling reduces.
Feet Getting Bigger From Running
If you ask yourself why are my feet getting bigger it is worth considering any physical exercise that you are doing that could be contributing to the issue.
Running in particular puts significant pressure on your feet. You may find that your arches start to flatten, the muscles grow in size and your foot can swell from the force you are placing on them.
Lots of runners report that after having taken up the hobby their shoe size has increased by around a half to a full size. This can be a costly business as it doesn’t just mean replacing all your running shoes but also your normal shoes and boots as well.
Ok, this next point is a longer-term issue but still valid and that is evolution is impacting the size of our feet and our bodies.
In the past century or so, the average foot size has been growing significantly and shows no sign of stopping. In the 1960s the average American woman’s foot size was 5.5 or 6 by the ’80s this had grown to 8 to 8.5. Now that figure is nudging a 9.
Better health and nutrition and increased calorie intake are all contributing to our body’s growth and that is clearly reflected in the size of feet in recent history.
How To Stop Feet From Growing
Whilst your feet will have stopped physically growing in your very early twenties you can stop your feet from expanding in width by taking some very simple steps.
Firstly wear shoes with excellent arch support so that you support your feet and don’t allow them to start to splay over time. Vionics shoes and boots are one of my favorite brands that have special inserts inside their shoes to help with this problem.
If your podiatrist recommends orthotics wear them in your shoes and slippers to help support your feet and resolve any mechanical problems that could cause your feet to expand.
Keeping your weight at a sensible level will help. So make sure you don’t overeat and try and eat a balanced diet and reduce your salt intake to avoid your ankles and feet swelling.
If you do experience swelling try and get some exercise to help your blood circulation. This doesn’t have to involve anything as strenuous as running. Think about walking for example as a way to get moving.
If you do see your feet swelling or expanding use a leg elevation pillow and compression socks to help.
Do Socks Prevent Your Feet From Growing?
Finally, if you are asking yourself why are my feet getting bigger and are thinking of trying some old wives’ tales to get them to shrink they won’t work.
Lots of people think that wearing tight socks for example will stop their feet from growing when in fact they don’t do anything of the sort. All they will do is feel uncomfortable and put themselves at risk of hammertoes and other foot problems.
Stick to my common sense advice and look after your feet by wearing the right supportive shoes and keeping your weight down and you will lower your chances of problems with your feet.
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